Arun Thann's First Day of School
Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic
results if they really want to.
Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.
Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here.
Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.
Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science
Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please
accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.
Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these
Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most
likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.
Some people liked little Arun and wanted to know more of him. And I found some challenge prompts.
"And up," the teacher said drawing a piece of chalk over the blackboard. "And down."
Up ... and down, up and down, alone in the first bench on the boys' side of the classroom Arun did his best to copy the movement on his little students' blackboard. This wasn't as hard as he'd feared it would be from the descriptions of his older cousins. Maybe he shouldn't have been nervous about starting school after all.
Then again ...
While the thing he had worried about, the actual schoolwork, seemed quite harmless, the thing he'd been looking forward to ... well ...
He'd been so delighted to finally have the chance to meet and befriend some other little noble boys. Not that he wasn't happy with the friends he had now, but he could only play with them as long as at least one of his parents was at home. Whenever both left Waterdeep he had to live with his grandmother and she disapproved of his friends so much that she would neither allow them into her house nor Arun to be seen with them outside.
They just weren't appropriate, she'd say whenever he asked what was wrong with them and when he asked what wasn't appropriate, well, his favourite playmate to go exploring with was a hin and that was very wrong for some reason. The little girl that he liked especially because she was almost always available to play with was the daughter of a chambermaid and her father unknown. The boy next door was a half-orc and his stepfather owned a tavern. Nissa was a beggar girl, and Elion's father worked for Elaith Craulober.
None of it made any sense to Arun, but whenever he said so his grandmother simply insisted that it was all very bad and that his friends ought to be other little noble boys. And then she'd tell him to go play with his cousins, who usually didn't let him, because they were playing big children's games that they said Arun couldn't understand yet.
But when they'd gone to meet the headmaster he'd told Arun that all the children here would certainly be appropriate enough for his grandmother. "We teach only the children of the very best families," he'd assured Arun's parents.
His mother hadn't looked all that pleased at the time, but his father had just shrugged and said that Arun surely wouldn't abandon his old friends for the new and the more friends one had the better.
So far however things looked bleak on that front.
"Just look at those ugly mule ears," a voice whispered somewhere behind him.
He might as well have just said it normally. The 'ugly mule ears' were very sharp.
"And the way they flop along when he moves his head," another giggled.
"And he nods along with every line he writes, too."
Arun tried to hold his head still, but it broke his stride and the next up and down ended up crooked and too short and he had to wipe it off again.
"Oh, now he's made a mistake."
"Look at the way he holds his chalk."
Arun's fist clenched around the little white stick and he stopped writing entirely.
"I can't believe they accepted an elf in the first place," another child commented. "I thought this was supposed to be a good school."
"Just wait till I tell my parents. They'll make sure he leaves - or send me to a better school. They'll never put up with me having to consort with the likes of him."
"Oh you'd better tell them right away when you get home."
Before Arun realised what he was doing he'd turned around and thrown his chalk in the boy's face.
"You'd better all do that!" he shouted at the giggling children. "Because I sure don't want to consort with the likes of you either! Ugly, ... plump, ... idiot ... h- ...humans!"
"I'm of much better blood than you a- ... anyway," he added for good measure, though through his sobs it didn't sound nearly as cold and contemptuous as when Uncle Elaith said it.
And then he had to spoil it even more by bursting into tears outright while all the other children laughed at him.
"Why, Arun Thann!" the teacher scolded. "Whatever do you mean by this outburst. If you can't work quietly like your friends, I'll have to make you stand in the corner until you learn to behave like a real young nobleman."
That made the rest of the class laugh even harder.
"No," he said, suddenly feeling more determined than ever before in his life. "You won't and they are not my friends." He picked up his things and threw them back into the brand new little satchel he'd been so proud of in the morning. "They're not my friends, they are awful and I hate them. And I hate this place, too, so I'm leaving. And I'm not coming back, so you won't have to do anything."
There were still tears running down his cheeks, but it didn't matter anymore. He'd passed Nissa begging at a corner on the way here, so he knew where to find
her, but he'd take the way through the tunnels until he got there. Maybe that'd get Uncle Elaith's attention and then Arun could tell him how awful little
nobles were. Telling Uncle Elaith always made things better.
Perhaps he shouldn't have gone into the sewers alone after all. Uncle Elaith had told him only to do so in a real emergency. It was too late by the time Arun thought of that, though. Somewhere he'd taken a wrong turn and gotten turned around until he no longer knew what direction he was going in.
Thanks to Uncle Elaith who liked to lecture him on how to navigate tunnels whenever they came down here he had little trouble getting back to the surface, but there he came out into an alley he'd never seen before. For a moment he felt cold fear clutch at his stomach, but then he once again remembered Uncle Elaith's lessons.
This was exactly the sort of situation those had been meant to prepare him for, so there was no reason to be afraid. He just had to do exactly what Uncle Elaith had told him to.
So Arun strode towards the closer end of the alley, quickly, but not fast enough that people would think he was running away. 'Don't look afraid, don't look lost. Look like you belong there and know exactly where you are going.' His fine school clothes didn't really fit in here, but it couldn't be helped.
As he'd hoped he emerged into a bigger street, but it too was unfamiliar. This was disappointing. The idea was to find out where he was and take the fastest way home.
Remembering the lessons Arun kept walking steadily nevertheless and only glanced around 'casually'. He couldn't see any familiar landmarks, nor any 'safe' people, not even a Watch patrol. That would be safe in his current situation, Arun decided, though Elaith had taught him how to avoid them in case he'd done something he might get arrested for.
What was even worse was that the street looked no cleaner than the alley had and the people in it were all very shabbily dressed.
'Don't trust them if you're on your own. They might be hungry enough to rob you or kidnap you and hold you for ransom.'
No asking for help then, keep walking steadily.
But should he keep going in this direction or choose another? What part of the city was he even in? And why did it smell so bad, like fish and ... Of course,
that was the smell of the harbour! He had to be in the Dock Ward! Now, if only he could determine what direction the smell came from, the opposite one should
take him closer to the centre of the city and familiar landmarks.
"What do you mean 'left'?" Danilo Thann demanded with uncharacteristic vehemence. "Where is my son?"
"I don't know," the teacher repeated patiently. "I already told you. He got up, said he didn't like school and was going home. It's not that unusual. The little ones will do much stranger things on the first days of school. They get bored with a repetitive task and just assume that they can abandon it like a game they've lost interest in. It happens. And to be honest ... well ... don't misunderstand me, I have nothing against elves or people of mixed race, but half elves do mature much more slowly than humans and your son does at least look like one. I think that, maybe it would be wiser to wait until he reaches the normal schooling age for half-elves. I know he isn't actually a half-elf, of course, but he does look like one, so perhaps his intellectual maturity ..."
"I do not need a lecture on elves or half-elves," Danilo snapped. "I'm married to a half-elf. I know more elves than you've probably ever seen. What I need is to find my son!"
In this the teacher proved entirely unhelpful.
Irvan frowned down at the upturned barrel that served him and his companions as a dicing table in dismay. It did nothing to change how the dice had fallen of course. He had no luck today.
"And I win again!" the ugly old half-orc crouching opposite to him crowed. "Another round?"
Irvan looked up at him and considered whether he could convincingly claim that he'd already lost all the money he had on him and had to quit for the day. It just wasn't any fun playing when you never won, certainly not worth going without lunch or dinner.
But what was that? Perhaps he did have some luck today after all, even though it didn't extend to dice. The perfect excuse had just walked into view on the street behind his opponent.
"Forget the dice and take a look at that kid," he snarled. "That's pretty expensive clothes he's wearing, ain't it?"
The half orc turned to look. "Why, he's just a tiny little scrap! And the watch patrol not due for a good 'nother quarter-hour. Think he's with anyone?"
"Nah, ain't nobody givin' 'im a secon' glance," their third playmate opined.
"Let's grab 'im," Irvan suggested. "Bet he's got some coin on him, and we can sell them clothes, too."
"Let's," the half-orc agreed. "But carefully. Might be worth a good ransom, if he's alive."
The boy stopped and looked up at them with innocent surprise when they intercepted him, but wouldn't come with them voluntarily.
"I have an errand to run," he claimed innocently. "Mustn't be late. Sorry."
But when Irvan reached out - ostensibly to put a friendly hand on his shoulder - the boy twisted away suddenly, ducked through under Irvan's companions' arms and ran. They took off after him. Surely such a little thing couldn't keep up this speed for very long?
Their third companion luckily turned out to be fast. He overtook the child before they reached the next intersection, but once again the little brat managed to twist and duck away and this time he darted up a pile of crates and into the window of an old and locked warehouse.
Irvan regarded the window with dismay. The crates might or might not be sturdy enough to bare their weight, but could all three of them squeeze through there?
The half-orc apparently didn't want to take the chance and ran straight into the wobbly old door. The lock might be too strong to give way, but the rotting wood wasn't. It splintered and in they went, though they didn't get very far.
Instead of the empty storage room they'd expected they found what looked like a smuggler's den, and it certainly wasn't abandoned.
At the far end two dwarves were facing down three well armoured figures, all with their swords drawn and none of them looking too happy about the interruption.
The leader of the latter three turned around with a snarl, apparently trusting his companions to be able to hold their on against the dwarves, and faced Irvan and his companions who stopped dead at the sight of him.
This was no man, Irvan realised with a frantically beating heart. It might have been an unusually large and heavily built elf, except it had horns instead of ears and its skin was covered with white scales like a reptile's.
"Um ... wrong door, I guess," Irvan mumbled and took a hasty step backwards. Forget the kid, he only wanted to get back out of here. He didn't really need the money after all ...
For a moment it looked like the monster would let them go and return to whatever his business with the dwarves might be, but just then a small figure dashed out behind a wall of stacked crates and straight at the monster.
"Uncle Tincheron! They tried to grab me!" the boy squealed as he threw his arms around the monster's legs.
Tincheron casually picked him up with one arm so he could climb onto his shoulders and snarled at Irvan and his companions.
"Pack those two up for Lord Craulnober," he said over his shoulder. "I've got some other business to attend to."
Then he turned his full attention back on the three new arrivals and opened his mouth again, but this time no sound came out. The last thing Irvan felt was an
intense, numbing cold.